The 10 Best Negative Traits in Project Zomboid – Build 41

Many months ago I did a list on my top 10 best traits in Project Zomboid. This included a list of some of the strongest positive traits that one can pick up in the game. One thing that I didn’t take into account when making that list is the fact that to pick these positive traits, you’re going to have to take some hits. For that reason, here is a list on the 10 best negative traits that you can get on your character in Build 41.

As you need a good balance between points spent and actual hardships of your character, the list will generally try to find a good balance between play-ability and points saved for good traits. There really isn’t a ‘best build’ for the game. As it’s an RPG game you are developing your own story, so play as you wish. Want an overweight lumberjack? Go right ahead! This list will show you my personal favorites and make you think of some traits you didn’t consider before.

Negative Trait 1: High Thirst

  • Points Redeemed: 6
  • Description: Needs more water to survive

Starting the list off with one of my favorite negative perks it is time to talk about high thirst. While you might be shuddering at the thought of making one of the survival mechanics in a survival RPG even worse to deal with don’t! Although it seems daunting at first, a good source of water is really not that hard to come across. Best of all you get a whole 6 points at your disposal to spend.

Considering that you can get water through many different sources all the way through the game, I generally consider this free points. While the power is still working throughout the world you can get water from any kitchen or bathroom, after the power and water have been cut off of course you can boil water using a campfire to make it drinkable. High Thirst is great for a few extra points.

Negative Trait 2: Slow Reader

  • Points Redeemed: 2
  • Description: Takes longer to read books.
A bunch of books in Project Zomboid

One decent trait for getting a couple of points back is of course slow reader. This one will really depend on the type of character you want to play and which version of the game you are playing. Those player single player can consider this one 2 free points as in single player you have the ability to speed up and slow down time when you wish. Sure, reading will be a bit slower that normal but when you can triple the speed of the game whenever you wish to skip the reading, it doesn’t really matter.

This will only really become a problem if you are playing in a multiplayer server. But even then, you don’t have to read books too often when you are leveling your character. Slow Reader makes an easy two points to put into something better.

Negative Trait 3: Thin-Skinned

  • Points Redeemed: 8 (Wow!)
  • Description: Increases the chance of scratches, lacerations or bites breaking the skin.

This might seem like a bad idea to you at first if you are an action hero style of gamer. With Project Zomboid you’re generally going to be spending most of your time avoiding the action rather than tearing through zombies. Due to the fact that once you are bitten you are infected anyway, I always end up grabbing thin-skinned. You will amass a whopping 8 points to use on some other positive traits as well.

This can be an issue though if do get surprised by an enemy (which can happen often in Project Zomboid), but as long as you are a stealthy player you should be fine with Thin-Skinned!

Negative Trait 4: Hemophobic

  • Points Redeemed: 5
  • Description: Panic when performing first aid on self, cannot perform first aid on others, gets stressed when bloody.

Along the same lines as thin-skinned Hemophobic is another great trait for those that are pretty good at avoiding combat. As long as you aren’t fighting zombies in melee combat non-stop there’s no reason that should need first-aid. Understandably it can be annoying that you can’t perform first aid on any others if you’re playing multiplayer but as long as one of your friends is decent at first aid you can always have them patch you up.

Along with this you have the option to pick up the positive trait known as Brave. This in turn will help your character not to get panicked as quickly. Brave will cost 4 so you will essentially get a free point and not too much risk of panic. Unfortunately you aren’t able to get this trait if your character has the Veteran job as this removes panic from your character completely. Still, if your character is the farmer of the group and will stay mostly out of the action, a thin-skinned hemophobic will give you plenty of points to spend on some great perks in the positive traits side.

a player in Project zomboid getting blood on them with the negative trait hemophobic
Hemophobics should generally avoid melee take-downs due to the blood splatter.

Negative Trait 5: Pacifist

  • Points Redeemed: 4
  • Description: Less effective with weapons

Okay I know what you’re thinking, in a zombie survival game where you are beating down enemies you want to be able to hit as hard as possible. But let me convince you why pacifist is a good choice.

Chances are you are taking a character with an occupation and already have an idea on what which weapons you wish to skill up. Then you will already have a extra point or two into your category of choice from this. What pacifist actually does is lower the experience gain for weapon-related skills. These skills suck as short blunt and spear will take longer to gain levels in. It doesn’t make your attacks less powerful or anything like this. You character won’t get panicked if they come to a fight, it will just slow the EXP gain. A great one to take with pacifist is Fast Learner as it will end up in a net positive multiplier for weapons.

Negative Trait 6: Unfit/Very Underweight

  • Points Redeemed: 10 from each
  • Description:
    • Unfit: Very low endurance, very low endurance regeneration. -4 Fitness
    • Very Underweight: Very low strength, very low endurance and prone to injury. -2 Fitness

As these two are pretty similar to each other i thought i’d bring them both under the same category. Both of these traits will make your character pretty much useless when it comes to running around or doing anything at the start of the game. But that being said, if you want a character that is going to survive for a very long time, this doesn’t really matter. The negative effects from these traits will not last. If you manage to level up your fitness level a couple of points you won’t see the effect of these traits at all. Plus the fact that each of them gives you 10 whole points to spend on skills is wild.

Seriously, getting both of these will be a slog at the start but thanks to the new exercise system introduced into the Build 41 version of the game you can get your fitness level up by utilizing it. After about a week in-game you won’t be struggling from this anymore. Long-term, these traits can be great for getting some of the good traits.

Negative Trait 7: Underweight

  • Points Redeemed: 6
  • Description: Low strength, low endurance and prone to injury. -1 fitness
an underweight player in project zomboid utilizing one of the best negative traits that you can take in the game

Since we are on the vein of traits that won’t matter in the long-term it’s worth bringing underweight into the mix. This one is pretty easy to mitigate by simply eating a lot of food once you are playing the game. Generally high-fat foods are going to be easy to find. Whether you get lucky with a tub of ice cream in the freezer or come across a couple of sticks of butter putting on long-term weight is not so hard in Project Zomboid.

Underweight is your friend. Speaking of underweight as a negative trait…..

Negative Trait 8: Overweight

  • Points Redeemed: 6
  • Description: Reduced running speed, low endurance and prone to injury. -1 Fitness

This trait is pretty good for exactly the same reasons as underweight. Obviously you won’t be able to take these traits together but you can match it with others that reduce fitness as well. By using the aforementioned exercise system and making sure you’re only eating your greens, you can shed off some kilos easily after picking this perk. Even if I don’t want a huge disadvantage at the start of the game I usually grab this perk.

Negative Trait 9: Claustrophobic

  • Points Redeemed: 4
  • Description: Gets panicked when indoors

This one may be a no-go for you and I can understand that. It can be rather annoying having a character only stressing out any time you go into a tight. Then again it isn’t the worst thing in the world to only be restricted to large houses at the start of the game. When coupled with Outdoorsman which removes the negative side-effects of weather you can make a pretty good character for living off the grid.

Eventually Claustrophobic will wear off in Project Zomboid as well. The effects of this trait will eventually get better and better as you play through the game. If your character is lucky enough to live for a couple of months, claustrophobic will be completely gone.

Negative Trait 10: Smoker

  • Points Redeemed: 4
  • Description: Stress and unhappiness decrease after smoking tobacco. Unhappiness rises when tobacco is not smoked.

Funnily enough this is the one negative trait that actually includes a little positive effect as well. Smoker means that the longer your character goes without smoking the more gradually unhappy they will get. Smokes have always been pretty easy to find in Project Zomboid. Players have shared screenshots of thousands and thousands of cigarettes in their inventories.

Build 41 has made cigarettes a little bit harder to locate but you still shouldn’t have too much trouble. Check near gas stations and inside residential homes and you’re bound to come across some cigarettes to sate those smoker cravings.

a player smoking with the negative trait for smoker in project zomboid build 41

How did you find the list? Did any of the traits surprise you and do you think that you are going to take some of the traits that I’ve mentioned in the post on your next play-through? Leave a comment below and once you’re done with this list you can also check out another post I did on the top 10 best traits to take in Project Zomboid. (It has positive and negative traits in mind) Until next time, stay frosty survivors!

YouTuber Retanaru also posted a great video breaking down some of the best traits to use that you can see here.


2 thoughts on “The 10 Best Negative Traits in Project Zomboid – Build 41”

  1. Thanks for the list and the explanations. The only opinion I disagree with is thin-skinned. It makes getting bitten extremely easy. Scratches and Lacerations you can heal from but there’s no coming back from bites. One tiny mistake and the character you’ve had for a few in-games weeks/months is gone and so are your skills. Unless you’re able to set yourself up well with vehicles, gas, weapons and meds before you die; you’re going to have to do the early game grind all over again.

    I’ve told my friends who are new to the game to take thick-skinned to start off with until they’re more comfortable to “take the training wheels off”. I also asked them to read the rest of your guide. Keep up the good work.

    • Hey!

      Yes good call with the Thin-skinned. I guess it is really playstyle dependent. Generally the characters of mine that survive the longest are the ones that almost never get into any contact with zombies at all. If you’re being stealthy you can generally avoid getting into danger but you’re right. New players are going to be better off with thick-skinned as it makes the game just a little bit more forgiving.


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